Thank you Jean-Luc for this gem
Captured in 32 bit/384 kHz
Film director Sergei Eisenstein was not deceived by Hitler’s ruse and saw the Nazi threat for what it was, a black faced lie, not to invade Russia. He brought out a film called Alexander Nevsky in 1938, telling of the 13th Century Russian hero, Prince Alexander and his campaign against the invading Teutonic Knights of Germany. The story, quite accurate at that, was a good parallel with the situation in 1938, and served as a slightly disguised warning to the Soviet people to be ready, when the Germans invaded Russia. Eisenstein was sure this was a certainty, despite Stalin’s insistance that the Führer could be trusted. So disillusioned was the Soviet leader when the German Army did attack, that he sequestered himself for 2-3 weeks in his Moscow area “dacha,” a sort of Communist “Camp David.” He refused to give defensive orders and hundreds of thousands of Soviets died in the initial days of this war. Stalin, at first, tried to suppress the Eisenstein film, but it was so popular that he relented…..
Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Performer: London Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Anna Reynolds
Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: André Previn
Number of Discs: 1
DR-Analysis: DR 12
Size: 1.65 GB
Nevsky opens with the section titled “Russia under the Mongol Yoke.” Begining with heavy, suspenseful chords, a bass clarinet helps with a tune representing the scene of the Mongol crueltry and domination of much of Eastern Russia, as Russian folk tunes flow by in the background of the music. The mood is prolonged and dark, moody and ominous. Previn and the LSO convey this picture very well. The tempo is plodding and funereal, as it should be. The “Song about Alexander Nevsky”, is a three part A/B/A melody praising our hero for his previous bravery. Track 3 is The “bad guys” the “Invaders in Pskov”.
Pskov is a city in NW Russia, not far from Novgorod, which is featured much in the film. The knights have sacked and murdered in Pskov and some of her last surviving citizens cry out for vengance against the Germans as they are hung and killed in the public square of the medieval city. They implore heaven and call for Prince Alexander. When word of the massacre reaches the Prince, he is enraged and begins urging that an army be formed to repel the invaders and avenge their brothers and sisters. The music is a clever blend of the motifs of the cruel knights and a sympathetic image of the outmanned citizens from which the army will be built. The pompous Teutons chant in Latin, of their greatness and invincibility. They believe they have Heaven on their side because the Russians are, after all, just Slavs and, therefore, barbarians. In the film, the actors portraying the Catholic rfeligious of the invaders are all ugly, grotesque men, with hideous make-up and mannerisms to mark them as the enemy.
The Russian people are depicted as noble in stature though peasants in behavior Prince Alexander is played by Nickolai Cherkasov (1903-1966), and he is a striking figure, tall, athletic and dignified. He tries to raise the army but is met with rejection and indifference. Still, he manages to convince the people that this is a task that must be faced. It will not go away, and Alexander will lead them. Togather, with God’s graces, they will be victorious.
The “Battle on the Ice, ” is next and this is the center of the work. The Germans begin their cavalry charge on their heavily armored horses and sophisticated weapons where the Russians have only axes, clubs some swords and lots of courage and spirit. The chorus chants the Latin text. As the clash of arms proceeds, the defenders fall back on the frozen surface of Lake Chud, drawing the unwitting German troops further from land and the thicker ice. Suddenly, the very ice beneath them begins to crack and Germans begin to fall through into the freezaing waters. At first , this is a slow process, but, with the acceklerando in the music, the pace quickens and becomes frantic.
The Germans panic, as the brass and winds sound one charge after another by the Peasant forces. The tide of the Battle moves to the defenders advantage as the attackers begin running for their lives. The battle music fades to a soft close and without pause, mezzo-soprano Anna Reynolds begins her soulful song of lamentation in “The Field of the Dead.”
Since the film contains a side story of two men, the best of friends, both in love with the same pretty Russian maiden, it is she who searches the dead and dying on the ice looking for them both. She will have to chose which one to wed, but loves them both. Having showed great courage equally, the men now, both wounded, one severely, and each feels the other to be most worthy of her hand. This fits wonderfully with the Communist ideal of selflessness and brotherly love and dedication, or is it comrade-ship. Reynolds is poignant and moving. However, I feel this music needs the dark, rich tones of a contralto.
The finale, “Alexander’s entry into Pskov” is the celebratory conclusion to this marvelous cantata and is a a rousing, festive mix of chorus and orchestra loaded with flag waving and teary eyed patriotism. In the film, there is much rejoicing and danciing. Previn’s tempi here again are wild and free but not unorganized at all. He maintains control and builds to a fitting climax, the chorus riding the waves of enthusiasm and gaiety with us. This Previn EMI recording was made in Kingsway Hall with the LSO in November of 1971.
|Alexander Nevsky, Cantata Op. 78|
|A1||Russia Under The Mongolian Yoke||3:25|
|A2||Song About Alexander Nevsky||3:12|
|A3||The Crusaders In Pskov||7:39|
|A4||Arise, Ye Russian People||2:28|
|B1||The Battle On The Ice||13:37|
|B2||The Field Of The Dead||6:38|
|B3||Alexander’s Entry Into Pskov||4:23|
Analyzed Folder: /192k Prokofiev – Alexander Nevsky – Previn
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR15 -0.67 dB -23.61 dB A1 Russia Under The Mongolian Yoke.flac
DR11 -2.54 dB -19.72 dB A2 Song About Alexander Nevsky.flac
DR12 -0.78 dB -17.08 dB A3 The Crusaders In Pskov.flac
DR11 -2.88 dB -18.29 dB A4 Arise, Ye Russian People.flac
DR12 -0.35 dB -16.43 dB B1 The Battle On The Ice.flac
DR13 -6.72 dB -25.11 dB B2 The Field Of The Dead.flac
DR10 -2.90 dB -17.55 dB B3 Alexander’s Entry Into Pskov.flac
Number of Files: 7
Official DR Value: DR12
- Chorus – London Symphony Orchestra Chorus
- Chorus Master – Arthur Oldham
- Soprano – Anna Reynolds
- Composed By – Sergei Prokofiev
- Engineer [Balance Engineer] – Christopher Parker
- Orchestra – London Symphony Orchestra
- Conductor – André Previn
- Producer [Recording Producer] – Christopher Bishop
- Sleeve Notes – Peter Gammond
- Text By – Prokofiev, Lugovskoi
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- Phono amp: Audio Research SP15 own tube phono section.
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Audio Research SP15
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX 5 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.18
- Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removed, never de-noising
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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